Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Questions (161)

Michael McGrath


161. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Education and Skills the reason the application form for the home tuition scheme for the 2019/2020 school year was released later than usual in 2019; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that this has left many parents in a very uncertain and difficult position; if once approved, payments will be backdated to the date of commencement of the scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37036/19]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

My Department works closely with the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) which has responsibility for working with families and schools and for the provision and coordination of an adequate number of specialist educational places to meet local demand throughout the country.

The NCSE has a national network of Special Educational Needs Officers (SENOs) to plan the necessary provision to meet local need. SENOs assist and advise parents experiencing difficulty finding a suitable school place for their child.

Where a parent cannot secure a suitable school place for their child, they can make an application to the Department for the Home Tuition Grant. The Home Tuition Grant provides funding towards a compensatory educational service for children until a school placement is available. By its nature, it is intended to be a short term intervention.

The application forms and related Circular for this year’s scheme were published on 8th August 2019. Last year, the forms and circular were published of 26 July 2018.

Applications forms are signed by the NCSE local SENO to confirm that no school placement is currently available for a child. SENOs are processing home tuition applications as a matter of urgency.

The Home Tuition Application form outlines that it may take my Department up to 15 working days to process home tuition applications.

My Department is prioritising the processing of Home Tuition applications with a view to processing completed applications within a shorter timeframe.

Tuition cannot commence until a grant approval letter issues from the Department confirming that the terms and conditions of the Scheme have been met.